They say that in this world, there is no place like home.

Sitting here in this withering brown seat, bones rattling to the rhythm of this rumbling train, fingers gripping at the house key I vowed to never use again, I would say they were right.
There is no place like home.
But not in the way they thought.

Hello, welcome to your voicemail. You have (2) unheard messages. Select 1 to hear message.
“Hey kid, it’s me, dad. Your mom and I are so excited you’re finally coming back home, we know you’re probably giving up all your partying and girlfriends to come to Derry. Or uh, boyfriends, of course… if that’s what you college kids are into these days, that’s fine.” 
Someone hollers in the background and Dad laughs.
“No, honey, I told him it was ok to have a boyfriend! Yes, yes he knows we love him no matter who he sleeps with, stop yelling!”

Worlds of blue skies and sun-kissed meadows roll outside the window like a film, slow, and silence and peace. My dirty converse lightly taps the floor, lips curling into a smile, eyes closing at the grainy audio through my earphones. 
Dad. Mom.
I’d almost forgotten.

The sound of shuffling ensues in my ears as Dad moves through the house. Clearing his throat, he lowers his voice and speaks
“Listen, Jordan…”
He pauses, sighs.
“I-I just want you to know… you don’t have to worry about Sarah being home, ok?”

My amber eyes snap open. A tsunami of images slammed into me like a tidal wave. 
An ambulance, a knife, a sweet smile. A scar from my left shoulder to my right hip.

“I know it’s been tough, real tough, in the past but the doctors say she’s better now and she’s got control of her…condition.”
I choke, gasping for air as terror washes over me. Fear comes alive, creeping up my spine and enveloping me in an icy embrace I know all too well. 
I grip my seat and brace myself for the world to end, as it has before and before and before. 

“She’s getting better, Jordan, you’ll see. The other her… she’s gone, kid. She’s just your sister now.”

The air is a prison, weighing my body down, holding me in place until I am frozen I am trapped I am panic I am fear I am the rusting gold key in the palm of my hand, taunting, welcome home Jordan, welcome home, don’t worry, she’s getting better, you’ll see- 

A baby with amber eyes and ebony hair, giggling at her father before biting off his finger.
A little girl helping her classmate to write before stabbing him with the pencil.
A teenager making toast for her older brother before slashing him with the butterknife.
An eclipse, a reflection, two sides of a coin.
You remember your sister with love.
I remember her with knives and a smile.

“Just get home safe, kid. We missed you and we love you. All of us.” 
The audio in my earphones ends. People bustle around me in a flurry of colours and the buzz of milling crowds fills my ears once more. 
The train has stopped.
I rake my pale hands through my dark hair, wipe my eyes on sleeves damp with tears and stand up on quivering legs.
Then I grab my backpack and leave.
Slowly, I wander over cascading hills and lakes of opaque glass, watching small kids splash in the waves without a care in the world. Wary adults hover at their heels, their anxious cries to come home now, dear, it’s getting late now floating through the air as the sun sinks in its sea of orange. I drift in a maze of noise and twisting roads and old Victorian houses until finally, I stand in front of a two-storey townhouse. It is quaint, homely, with baby blue walls, a wide porch and a familiarity I forced myself to forget.
I’m home.
The tips of my fingers tremble. My heart pounds in my ears and dread pounds in my stomach because I’m home, home, home WHY AM I HOME-
I reach for the door.

Hello, welcome to your voicemail box. You have (1) unheard messages. 
Select 1 to hear the message.


I stop cold.
There’s only one person that voice could belong to. The voice of someone I loved, someone I cherished, of someone who I last saw with a knife in my back, someone who is not only one person at all.

“Jordan, oh God are you there? Please, you have to come home right now, I-I don’t know what I’ve done.”
She’s crying, wailing, her voice wild with terror.
“ I j-just blacked out and now Mom and Dad, th-they’re not waking up and oh my god Jordan -”
Her voice breaks,
“There’s blood everywhere.”

I try to move but my body won’t budge. 
Sarah’s words ring in my ears like a siren,
Blood, Jordan, blood, everywhere.”

The phone clatters, dropped to the floor as her wails turn into gasps turn into howls and she sobs,
“Jordan I can’t – can’t control her anymore, she’s here, HELP ME – ”

Fear shackles my body my mind my soul a scream on my lips as I look up and in the attic window is
A girl. 
With my black hair. 
My amber eyes. 
A knife dripping a crimson waterfall.
And a sweet, sweet smile.
She is not my sister.


She tilts her head, glances at the knife, inspects the blood like it’s a fountain of rubies. Turns it slowly, ever so slowly, until its pointing right at
The echoes of my screams fill the neighbourhood as the girl in the window and my sister on the phone whisper the same exact word.


Written by Esara Perumbuli Arachchilage and edited by Shafquat Tabeeb. Published on 30/09/2022. Header image by Serena Jiang.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I can relate to this

  2. My son Thomas and James can relate to this

Comments are closed.